Why 13 Minutes Pumping Iron Might Be Better Than Spending Forever at the Gym
New research shows a short gym session can help endurance athletes gain strength—minus that unwanted bulk.
For decades, many endurance athletes like cyclists have avoided lifting weights for fear of gaining unwanted muscle mass that would weigh them down rather than speed them up.
Now, new research shows that not only can the right kind of resistance training put more power in your pedals, but also you can start gaining strength in less time than it takes to set up a pair of tubeless tires—just 13 minutes a session, according to the study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
In the study, researchers at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx and other institutions set out to determine the impact various set and repetition combinations would have on muscle strength, endurance, and hypertrophy, or how big their muscles grew.
After taking baseline measurements, the researchers divided 34 resistance-trained men into three groups and had them all perform an exercise routine, which included 8 to 12 reps of seven upper and lower body exercises. One group performed five sets of each exercise, with about 90 seconds of rest between sets—a high volume approach that had them in the gym for over an hour. The second, medium-volume group performed three sets of each exercise, which took about 40 minutes to complete. Finally, a low-volume group performed just one set of each exercise, getting them in and out of the gym in just 13 minutes.
Each group performed their assigned workout three times per week for eight weeks. At the end of the study, all three groups got stronger and improved their muscular endurance. Surprisingly, there were no significant difference among the groups in strength and endurance gains: The quick-hit lifters enjoyed the same improvements as those who were in the gym five times as long.
The only difference between the high volume and low volume lifters was muscle size. While all the men experienced some increase in muscle size, those lifting higher volumes saw the most significant gains. In short, the more sets the men lifted, the bigger their muscles got. But again, the burlier men weren’t stronger, just beefier.
That’s good news for endurance athletes who benefit from increased strength, but can pay a weight penalty for too much mass. The factor that matters most is lifting to failure—pushing hard enough that you truly can’t eek out another rep. If you do that, one set is all you need to reap the rewards of strength training, without sweating unwanted gains in size.
Article source: Bicycling.com